Top 10 stories of Skies in 2021

Through Sky Magazine | December 30, 2021

Estimated reading time 14 minutes, 35 seconds.

It’s that time of year again. As 2021 draws to a close, we’ve rounded up the 10 most popular articles on this year. Here is a brief recap of each story, with links to the original articles (click on the titles). In the meantime, the Skies The team takes this opportunity to wish all our readers a very happy new year and a blue sky for 2022!

Pilots in an A220 simulator.

In 2020, demand for pilots came to a screeching halt as operators park their planes and scale back operations. The advent of Covid-19 had plunged the industry into the worst downward cycle in its memory, and airlines rushed to stem the bleeding. In their haste to cut costs in the face of deflated demand, operators have laid off thousands of pilots and offered many other early retirement packages.

While Covid-19 may have delayed the pinch of a global pilot shortage, it is only a temporary reprieve. The pent-up travel demand is expected to combine with pilot retirements, attrition and the high cost of training to generate the perfect staffing storm.

Textron unveiled its new King Air 260 turboprop in December 2020, calling it a new era for its Beechcraft King Air 200 series aircraft. Photo by Textron

Beech Aircraft Corporation received type certificate for the Model 90 King Air, priced at US $ 320,000 fully equipped, in May 1964. Two months later, the company’s first delivery went to United Aircraft of Canada, Ltd., the forerunner of Pratt & Whitney Canada, which shipped its first production PT6 engines to Beech to power the inaugural King Air flight.

Since then, Beechcraft – now under the Textron Aviation banner – has delivered more than 7,600 aircraft to commercial and military customers around the world. According to the OEM, 6,320 King Air are still flying today and the global fleet has totaled some 63 million flight hours. We are chatting with King Air operators to find out why this guy is so popular.

Pilot Jamie Ingall recently successfully converted his Canadian ATPL to an FAA ATP certificate. Photo by Jamie Ingall

Canadian pilot Jamie Ingall successfully transferred her Canadian Airline Transport Pilot License (ATP) to an FAA ATP certificate and put together a step-by-step guide on how exactly she did it.

She originally graduated from the University of Waterloo’s Geography and Aviation program in 2014, and has spent her time in Canada piloting aerial surveys, swinging craft in the right seat of a PC- 12 and giving flying lessons. She then moved on to Air Georgian and flew the CRJ-200 for a few years before the US aviation industry sparked her interest. She flew for Air Wisconsin (United Express) when it first moved to the United States in fall 2019. Find out how she did it!

Penney does not see herself as one of the heroines of September 11, but rather as a participant in a “failed mission”. Photo by Heather Penney

Former DC Air National Guard pilot Heather “Lucky” Penney should be famous for her September 11, 2001 (9/11) mission to bring down United Airlines Flight 93 – but chances are you won’t. haven’t heard his story. Penney is humble and her modesty runs so deep that when she reflects, she does not see herself as one of the heroines of 9/11, but rather as a participant in a “failed mission.” Today she is touring the United States, sharing her story.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of September 11; Interview season has taken on a whole new level of expectations for a story that she admits she wished it had played out very differently.

Sharma is a maintenance AME, which means he is able to perform troubleshooting and repairs across the full range of an aircraft. Photo by Sid Sharma

When Sidhant Sharma began his career in aviation, he never imagined he would earn the title of Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) at Air Canada, and possibly even the youngest engineer in the world. Boeing 787 in the world. Sharma has been in aviation her entire life – being in the Air Cadets from a young age, her father being a loader for Japan Airlines and her brother becoming an Airbus A320 co-pilot – but he was particularly drawn to maintenance often eclipsed next to the industry.

The story of how he became an AME, and the attitude he had along the way, is one of true persistence.

One of Top Aces’ former Israeli F-16As disembarked from the An-124 in Mesa, Ariz. On January 28. Maxim Loshak Photo

Canada-based contract air services provider Top Aces took delivery of the first of its long-running planned fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons at the end of January. Four former Israeli Air Force F-16A / Bs, known as the Netz (Hawk), were loaded onto a giant Antonov An-124 transport plane at Ben-Gurion airport on January 27, 2021, bound for Top Aces’ new F-16 center of excellence at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway, Arizona, where they arrived The next day.

Top Aces has openly announced long-standing plans to upgrade its existing fleet of contract air support aircraft with used F-16s since 2014.

The Global 7500 is the key product behind Bombardier’s planned financial turnaround. Photo by Mike Reyno

Today, Bombardier focuses on a single activity: the business jet market. It currently produces five models – two for the medium business aircraft niche (the Challenger 350 and the Challenger 650) and three for the large aircraft niche (the Global 5500, Global 6500 and Global 7500).

Now that senior management is focusing on fewer moving parts, Bombardier is in a position to improve its results and the stability of its balance sheet.

The RCAF suffers from a seemingly voracious appetite for commercial pilots;  and as such, it descends well below the ideal staff descent path.  MCpl Mathieu Gaudreault Photo
MCpl Mathieu Gaudreault Photo

Through a series of initiatives to reduce the pilot shortage and retain experience in its frontline squadrons, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) reduced its pilot shortage from 203 at the end of 2019 to 145 in December 2020 – it was facing a deficit of no less than 275 in 2018.

While the Air Force is “aware” of what could happen as the industry recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, the RCAF is working to keep its retention programs as effective as possible.

Optionally piloted and fully autonomous WASPs in a close air support role. Aerospace image of Icarus

Icarus Aerospace presented its first aircraft, the Tactical Air Vehicle (TAV), to the media earlier this year. The TAV is actually the base configuration for a proposed family of specialty aircraft, including a heavily militarized variant called WASP, and a high-altitude platform known as the Branta. In short, a blank sheet suitable for the requirements of any operator.

The TAV has remained largely secret since the creation of Icarus Aerospace four years ago. But after four design iterations and positive feedback from aviation analysts and several key military programs, the Montreal, Que.-Based company has spoken out about the platform as it continues to seek government funding and a traction in the market.

The Gripen E is quite chunkier than the previous C / D variant, with greater range thanks to increased internal fuel capacity. Jamie hunter

Canada’s prolonged search for a new fighter jet to replace its aging McDonnell Douglas CF-188 Hornets has come down to a field of two competitors. US manufacturing giant Lockheed Martin offers the F-35A Lightning II, while Swedish Saab offers the latest incarnation of the Gripen – the single-seater E variant.

While Saab is often cited as a great model of profitability – the company’s marketing literature refers to the Gripen E as “the smart fighter” – the real capabilities are sometimes overlooked. We’re assessing whether Gripen E has the muscle to give Lockheed a run for their money in this important campaign.

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